German Exchange – by Shaun Wright

We arrived at Manchester airport for 5:00 and had about an hour to spare before boarding the plane to Munich, leaving behind what looked like a weather forecast from hell – which is obviously typical “summer” weather for the north west of England! We had two flights to catch, both of which were short and punctual, which was expected as we did fly with Lufthansa (German efficiency!)  After arriving in Nuremburg, we took two trains to Lauf an der Pegnitz, but Matt Davies (now Head Boy!) left us early to go to Allgäu with his host family. Allgäu is the home of the “Neuschwanstein castle” which for people not into Germany’s culture is known as the Disney castle.

When we arrived in Lauf we were greeted by our partners at the train station, and all 16 of us parted ways for the weekend. However lots of the German partners were friends and it was often the case that there was more than one exchange student with you at once, which was especially good for people who were shy. However…this was not always the case, and some people spent the weekend in a German household, where they hopefully learnt that Germans do not only eat sausage… which was a nice surprise for me! Many people went to restaurants for dinner and experienced some typical Bavarian food, which from my experiences was very nice eg: Klöße (potato or bread dumplings). Over the weekend people went swimming to the big outdoor swimming pool, where the temperature of the water depended on the temperature at the time and it just so happened that in Lauf it was about 28 Celsius so the pool was a “comfortable” (in the words of my exchange partner!) 20 Celsius. Let me tell you that when you have just ‘bombed’ into the German Freibad, without any indication of how cold the water is, 20 Celsius is anything but comfortable!!

Many other people went into Nuremburg, Franconian Switzerland, and visited the toboggan that looked like it was built in the 1960s (it probably was!) and even learnt some new sports…a certain member of the trip spent a full day at judo practice and found himself so enamoured with it that he has now taken up judo as a full time hobby!

On Monday we experienced a day in a German school, where I had to get up at 6am however there were many people who had to get up earlier to get the train to come to school. It was sweltering hot throughout the day and everyone experienced the lessons that their exchange partners were having, which was between us all was a varied spectrum of lessons. After school finished, which was approximately 2pm, we had the rest of the day to do whatever we liked with our partners. On Tuesday we visited Franconian Switzerland (a beautiful area of the German countryside) which has the highest density of breweries in the world, where we found ourselves in a series of limestone caves learning about how stalactites and stalagmites are formed! After that we visited a chapel and a falconry centre, which made for a very nice day. On Wednesday we had the chance to have a look around Bamberg, which is a very old and colourful town not too far by train, our tour guide was one of many classics teachers from the school and he had no problem telling us all about the history of the buildings and the towns overall historical heritage, which was again very interesting! After our tour of the city we had the chance to go shopping with friends and have another look around for ourselves. On Thursday we went to Nuremburg and more specifically to the “Doku-Zentrum”, which had thousands of artefacts from Nazi Germany and more information regarding the time period than anyone could ever imagine, which for everyone, especially those taking GCSE / A-Level history was amazing!We then had a tour of the grounds around the building, learnt how the architecture helped soldiers march in time and stood where Hitler addressed the thousands. After that we again had the opportunity to do some shopping and have a better look around the city, which is amazing. In the evening, most of the people were met by their German counterparts and met up together in the centre for a meal, which was a good opportunity for people to buy presents etc. On Friday morning we went into school with our partners and experienced some more of their lessons, before saying an emotional farewell to our partners, and setting off on the journey home.

Overall the trip was great and everyone learnt countless new things regarding the culture of Germany, the wonderful German language, and even their schooling system. The weather was great and all of the host families were amazing. All of the Lymm pupils had a great time and are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of their partners to England in October, where the partners will learn loads about our country, culture and language.